I’m sorry if I’m being too geeky in this post, but this safari was such a huge experience for me, so I really want to tell all the details. Even if it’s excessive.
Let me start out by saying, an African safari is something I would highly recommend to anyone. Anyone except those who hate life, nature or living things.
Safari is one of the best things I’ve ever done, one of the, all around, greatest experiences I’ve ever had.
On the safari, being in the wild nature, all illusions of daily life were gone. This was nature as it is. Beautiful, fascinating, exciting and rough. There was nothing “civilized” about it. It just was. Nothing was right or wrong, no rules, no good or evil. It was balanced, in harmony and…well, natural. Something highly unusual in our daily, western life.
I loved the experience and cherished it. And I still do. Something I wish I could have done with my parents when I was a kid, and something I definitely will do again, when I get children myself.
According to our driver we were unusually lucky with our game drives. We got to see more in 4 days than most people do in several trips.
A lot of people will not see the big 5 (which are; the lion, the elephant, the buffalo, the rhinoceros and the leopard) in 4 days. And some will not even see them all in several trips. In fact, most people, if not all, I met who had been on safari missed at least one of the big 5.
We saw them all at least twice as well as 2 cheetahs, which can be very hard to spot, because they blend in with the surroundings, so incredibly well. We were blessed with sights and experiences. We had chosen 3 days in Serengeti National Park and 1 day in the stunningly, beautiful Ngorongoro Crater.
We saw; 2 cheetahs, 2 leopards, 3 rhinos, all of which are by far the hardest to spot, more than 50 lions, tons of elephants and giraffes. Thousands of gazelles and hundreds of thousands of zebras, wildebeests and buffalos. And so much more. We also saw a lot of animals I don’t even remember the names of.
What was really interesting, was that all the animals were, more or less, right next to each other. You had zebras, lions, elephants, leopards, baboons, giraffes and warthogs (all of us called the warthogs for Pumba) in the same area walking around, right next to each other. The lions would just lie around and the leopards would be hanging in the trees, because it was too hot. But everything was in the same vicinity.
Since we all were on a budget we had chosen to camp instead of staying in huts. And also because it sounded really exciting too.
Camping is something I would highly recommend if you do a safari and like adventure. It may seem frightening to sleep among wild animals and predators without any fence or security. But I slept incredible every night. I tend to think it was because I was so close to nature. Not having all the disturbances of society all around you feels good, and I believe that made my sleep much more relaxed and natural.
Deciding to camp, instead of staying in huts, was one of our best choices. Not only was it a lot cheaper but it was also far more rewarding and exciting. Every night, after dinner, when we went back to our tents, and everything was pitch black, we could hear all the animals around us. Every time I looked around with my headlamp I could see pairs of eyes, reflecting in the light, looking at me. I did this every time I had to go to the tent or go out to pee, just to make sure I didn’t walk right into a group of lions. Because without any fence, alarms or guards it seemed like a good idea to watch what was around me. I had heard from one of the others that one of their friends had had 8 lions in their camp one night. We had also been warned, by our guide, not to climb the big rocks, right next to camp, because there were often lions there. So, it made sense to be cautious. But at the same time it was so incredibly exciting. Being so close to nature made everything so real and alive. Sometimes one or more animals would quickly run away whenever I flashed the light at them.
I was sleeping in tent with Axel, a German guy whom I had also climbed Kilimanjaro with. He was just as amazed and psyched about the experience, and although we were really tired in the evening we also wanted to listen to all the crazy sounds. The volume of all the shrieks, grunts, howls and noises was loud. Sometimes we could hear hyenas howling (the most crazy sound I’ve ever heard) extremely loud, very close to camp, or something ripping bark from a tree (that was what it sounded like), or something big and heavy walking around right outside, or something running away quickly. We sat in our tents with heightened attention listening to all the strange and foreign sounds trying to guess what it was.
Sometimes we peeked out, worried that something would charge us immediately, but we were just too curious, to see what was going on. It was hard to see anything, but sometimes we could see something moving around in the dark. We decided to leave the outer fly of the tent open in both sides so we could see if anything happened outside. Every night, before going to sleep, we agreed to wake each other up if we heard something crazy. We never did though, once we fell asleep we were gone. I slept better than ever. One morning our guide asked us if we had heard the lion roaring in the night. Huh? Really?! Nope, hadn’t heard anything. We slept through it all. So did the rest of our group. We asked if the others had heard the hyenas howling (we only know it was hyenas because we asked our guide the next day) but they had all been sleeping. It seemed crazy how one wouldn’t wake up from it, but Axel had slept through it too if I hadn’t woken him up. Only because I hadn’t fallen asleep yet was I lucky enough to hear it.
While writing about it and thinking about it I wish I was back there, on the African savannah. It’s something I will definitely do again, and probably again and again.